[EARLY OTTOMAN FANTASTIC] Muhayyelât-i ledün-i ilâhî. [i.e. Divine imaginations]

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GIRIDÎ ALI AZIZ EFENDI, (1749-1798), Mekteb-i Harbiye-i Hazret-i Sâhâne Matbaasi, Istanbul, [AH 1284] = 1868.

Contemporary bdg. covered a special jade paper branded "siguntin". Demy 8vo. (21 x 14 cm). In Ottoman script (Old Turkish with Arabic letters). [2], 239 p. Decorated title page with traditional motives, framed text, slight foxing on pages, and bumped backboard. Overall a very good copy.

Very early edition (second) of this exceedingly rare "unique work of fiction blending personal and fantastic themes, well in the current of the traditional Ottoman prose, but also exhibiting influences from Western literature". This book has been described by some literary historians as the first Turkish fantastic work in the Western sense.

Consisting of three parts and written in a laconic style contrasting with its content, where djinns and fairies surge from within contexts drawn from ordinary real-life situations, Ali Aziz Efendi often pursues by pulling the reader towards the description of magic and extraordinary occurrences. Inspired by a much older story written both in Arabic and Assyrian, the author also displays in his work his deep knowledge of Sufism, Hurufism, and Bektashi traditions. Muhayyelât is considered to be an early precursor of the new Turkish literature to emerge in the Tanzimat period of the 19th century. It also influenced Tanzimat [i.e. Reform] literature directly when the manuscript was printed in 1867 and became a very popular book of the time. His work is re-discovered by Turkey's reading public rather recently and is increasingly admitted as a classic. Ali Aziz Efendi also wrote further and shorter works of prose, which present as complementary extensions to Muhayyelât, as well as some poetry, and kept a correspondence with a number of notable figures of his time, both Ottoman and Western. He is also cited for a short sefâretnâme [i.e. book of the embassy] he wrote relating his introduction to his mission as the ambassador of the Ottoman Empire in Prussia.

Giridî [or Giritli] Aziz Efendi was born in Kandiye (Crete) as the son of Tahmisçi Mehmed Efendi, who was the defterdar of the Crete Eyalet, in 1749. The details of his life are rather sparse and scattered. He rose through the Ottoman hierarchy and was sent as ambassador to Prussia in 1796 and he died in Berlin in 1798. His burial marked also the opening of the first Turkish or Muslim cemetery in Berlin.

Özege 14148/2.; TBTK 3054.; OCLC locates three copies of this edition, only one of them in the US libraries (McGill University).

-- Islamic literature Ottoman literature Fantastic